5 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a CDO

By: Billy Ash, CDO, Today’s Business

1. Schedule everything

Achieving goals and completing tasks all starts with a schedule. When things are scheduled properly and a realistic timeline is set for a specific campaign, I am able to personally keep an eye on action items that need to be completed, follow up with my team, and hold them accountable. To ensure that goals are being met and tasks are being completed, I have found that it is best to schedule things on a quarterly, monthly, and annual basis. If you fail to plan ahead, things will get forgotten; it’s that simple. When your entire team is on the same schedule, it makes for a better overall workflow from the top down. From a management standpoint, it is my job to come in when I need to and check on my teams progress on a particular campaign, and make any adjustments if necessary. If halfway through a campaign you realize that you weren’t targeting the right audience, your end of year report won’t be something that your team is proud to present to the client. Sticking to a timeline, getting multiple people together and on the same page can seem daunting at times, but at the end of the day, and most importantly, at the end of the campaign, it will all be worth it.

2. Teamwork makes MY dream work

Having a team mindset is a huge part of what makes Today’s Business so special. Our team is full of so many diverse employees and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Every member of the TB Team has a unique skill set, even those who work in the same department. For example, no two graphic designers are exactly alike, which makes our teams’ creative elements so spectacular. When trying to develop a company culture, it’s heartwarming to see your employees have a mutual respect for each other’s talent and recognize that their colleagues can do something that they can’t. This, in turn, opens the door to new learning experiences and personal development.

As a business owner, diversity within my team gives me peace of mind to know that each and every task is being completed by a specialist. This also allows our employees the opportunity to teach and be taught by someone who is an expert in their field. That being said, when the members of a team are too alike, teams fail. Team collaboration is absolutely essential because when people with different ideas and strengths work together, they use their skills to make one another better. Even if one person is the best in their craft, the digital landscape must be full circle. When your team consists of specialists in a number of mediums, every person involved is able to better understand how each channel can properly work in sync, which will ultimately provide our clients with a more successful campaign.

3. Raise your prices

When we started Today’s Business in 2011, we would do anything and everything for our client on a $400 monthly retainer. We undercut ourselves because we thought this would help us be successful, but in reality, being a low-cost solution didn’t give us very much room to be creative. Trying to accomplish our clients’ demands with such a low budget led to us stretching ourselves too thin. By not telling a nationwide e-commerce client that they needed to spend more than $400 on social media management and $200 on ads in order to run a successful social media campaign, we did them a disservice and in turn, lost the client. Not suggesting industry standard pricing didn’t just put us in an unprofitable situation, our campaigns were hindered because we didn’t have the time or money needed to succeed. Because we were not sufficiently charging our clients, the profits we were bringing in did not allow us the chance to write enough content or hire enough staff to be able to do so.

By raising our prices, we were able to invest in the people and programs that took our campaigns to the next level. But we weren’t out of the gate just yet. We then had to deal with clients saying things like, “With that price, I could bring this service in-house”. These clients didn’t realize the cost of these programs and platforms; all they saw was how much they were paying us each month. The saying you have to spend money to make money couldn’t be more accurate. As a client, by investing in your business or brand, you should receive a larger ROI. As an agency, by investing in programs and people that help your clients be successful, they will want to pay you more. At the end of the day, clients are willing to pay more if they are seeing improved results.

4. Tools are powerful

I believe tools are one of the most critical things an agency can invest in. Whether free or paid, there are a multitude of ways tools make our lives easier. Tasks such as checking your team’s work, business listing management or doing competitive research can be 100 times more efficient. Having over 200 clients across the country, using powerful tools is the only way we are able to work efficiently and successfully tackle our day-to-day tasks. Trying to complete the main aspects of a campaign without the proper tools could take you hours, but with the appropriate tools, the same task could take you minutes. When it comes to competitive research, you need to know if your competitors are outranking your client, what keywords your competitors are using or how much they are spending on social ads, just to name a few.

Today’s Business, we use tools to seamlessly transfer data from one system to another. For example, if a client wants their website forms to go directly into their CRM or if we want to create dashboards to internally manage our clients’ ad spends, we can easily do so. This is made possible by partnering with companies like Zapier, which allows us to transfer information from over 150 data sources to our clients CRM. This makes us incredibly versatile when signing a new client because it gives us the ability to seamlessly integrate and ensure our leads and sales are going directly into their CRM or any other systems that may be necessary. Being armed with tools like this has impacted the overall efficiency of our business as a whole. That being said, it is important to note that it’s not just about using powerful tools, but about getting the most out of them.

5. Just say no (kinda)

Over the years, Today’s Business has grown tremendously, but we’ve grown correctly. What started as a social media focused agency has grown into a brand that effectively utilizes a comprehensive performance marketing approach. Instead of taking on any client that wants to work with us, we have a process of determining whether or not this client will be a solid fit. Any client we sign must be transparent, trust us to do our job correctly, and respect our decisions. In the past, clients that were not a good fit for us took time away from valuable clients, and that is something we have definitely learned from. If a client can’t understand that we are the experts, the partnership most likely won’t work out. But it’s not all about the wrong clients. When we work with the right clients, we are able to steer them in the right direction and ensure that our objectives are in line with theirs. If they come to us with an idea that we don’t believe will be effective, they will understand when we present them with a more strategic approach. At the end of the day, it’s the client’s campaign, but they hired us to do a job and we will do whatever it takes for their campaign to succeed.

My Role as CDO

Working in such an ever-changing industry, there will always be more to learn and challenges to overcome. Once we acknowledged our worth in this industry, I realized how important my role as a CDO truly was. If it weren’t for my mistakes, I never would have learned any of these five things. As our company continues to grow, our service offerings will grow in part, and I will be at the forefront of whatever it takes to ensure our success.